Popular music, reality television and the cultural identity of the urban poor in Dhaka

Mohammad, Din (2012). Popular music, reality television and the cultural identity of the urban poor in Dhaka PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Mohammad, Din
Thesis Title Popular music, reality television and the cultural identity of the urban poor in Dhaka
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Graeme Turner
Zala Volcic
Total pages 170
Total colour pages 14
Total black and white pages 156
Language eng
Subjects 2002 Cultural Studies
Abstract/Summary Dhaka is among the most crowded cities on earth, where nearly half of its population lives in slums, squatter-settlements and urban fringes. Since the mid 1980s, a new hybrid of popular music, sometimes called “urban folk”, has been prevalent in this city by dint of its consumption among the urban poor. These informal city-dwellers, by their power of mass consumption and with the advent of audio-cassettes and cheap music-listening technologies, have radically re-shaped the music industry. This cultural encroachment has transcended the boundary of the audio-cassette industry and reaches into the television media creating new representational patterns and cultural politics. It creates a “high-brow” and “low-brow” division inside the realm of popular music where the urban folk, a relatively awkward type of music for the taste of the educated class, in many ways outperforms the prevailing tradition of sophisticated pop in a city whose cultural taste is designed by the empowered elites and middle-classes. While contextualizing this phenomenon in the traditions of Bengali folk and popular musics and in the experiences of post-liberation and post-famine urban migration in Bangladesh, this research explores how urban folk music has been performing the cultural identity of the urban poor. Based upon a prolonged observation in different slums, streets and shrines of Dhaka, I argue that the hybrid nature of urban folk music makes it one of the best sites from which to observe the cultural formation of the urban poor. And the newly formed self of the urban poor – this research examines through ethnographic and textual analysis – is a silent and pervasive existence in Dhaka city which has been undergoing a series of conflicting portrayals through the production, consumption and reproduction of urban folk music in different media locations.
Keyword Popular music
Urban folk
Reality television
Urban poor
Cultural identity

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Created: Fri, 11 Jan 2013, 16:32:30 EST by Mr Din Mohammad on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service